July 1st is always a momentous time for anyone with a student loan ... this year will be no different. There will be some important loan changes you should be aware of.
RATE CHANGE ON VARIABLE RATE [STAFFORD] LOANS.
Historically, July 1st marks the time each year when variable interest rates on Federal (Stafford) Loans are reset. This year, the rate will drop to an astonishingly low 2.48% (which you can lock into by consolidating); 1.88% if you graduate this coming academic year and consolidate during your grace period! Before you get too excited, keep in mind this is more likely to impact individuals that have already graduated and have been hiding under a rock and have yet to consolidate their loans ... for almost everyone else... remember that the legislation passed on July 1, 2006 locked all Stafford Loans taken out after that date at a fixed 6.8% rate (with some exceptions for undergrads - see next section). Thus, it is only the Stafford Loans [that have not been consolidated] that were taken out prior to 7/1/2006 that are impacted by this rate change.
NOTE. If this rate drop does impact you, you will be wise to wait until AFTER July 1 to consolidate to take advantage of the new, lower rate. The current rate (available rate through June 30) is 4.21%.
"NEW" STAFFORD SUBSIDIZED LOAN RATES FOR UNDERGRADS.
The fixed rate for new subsidized Stafford Loans will drop from 6% to 5.6% for this coming year (7/1/2009 to 6/30/2010). This cut only impacts undergrad students (not grad students) and only subsidized Stafford Loans (not unsubsidized Staffords). Unsubsidized Stafford Loans remain at 6.8%.
PELL GRANT MAX AWARD AVAILABILITY INCREASES.
For 2009-2010, the maximum Pell Grant (Federal Government need-based grants) award has been raised to $5,350 (from $4,731).
INCOME BASED REPAYMENT PLAN.
I'll write about this topic separately in the next week or two ... if interested, you can read more about it and public service loan forgiveness at IBRinfo.org.
ADDITIONAL VALUABLE LOAN TOOLS/RESOURCES.
* Calculate your 'weighted' rate (if you have loans with multiple rates)
* Extensive battery of useful student/college calculators
* Federal Loan Info (Limits & Terms, 2009-10)
* Look up your Federal Loans (Need a PIN?)
* Military - New GI Bill (in effect 8/1/09)